Lyric poetess who lived on Lesbos during the later half of the 6th Century b.C. According to prevailing evidence, Sappho was the daughter of a renown family in Eresos of Lesbos, where she spent her childhood years. Her father is said to have been Scamandronymus and her mother Cleus. She most probably married Cercylas, a wealth man from Andros, by whom she gave birth to a daughter. Sappho named her daughter after her grandmother.
A contemporary of Alcaeos and Pittacus, Sappho did not remain untouched by the political unrest that shook Lesbos during the Archaic Times. It was this political turmoil that forced Sappho to go into exile in Sicily for a while. When she returned, now a widow, Sappho settled in Mytilene where she created a circle of young girls many of whom originated from the neighbouring towns of minor Asia. These girls lived with her and were taught the art of music, the savoir faire and domestic tasks and returned home only when they were to be married. Sappho’s lyrics inform us that there were similar educational institutions in Mytilene at the time.
Lyric poetry which is an hymne to human life, nature, love and personal feelings and experiences identifies Sappho as one of its most worthy representatives. Sappho’s world is the world of women.. Her poetry does not relate to acts of heroism or political events, but to the joys and pains of the small circle of those girls. With the exeption of the ‘Greek Epithalamium’, a song sung strictly by young men and maidens before the bridal chamber (wedding songs as we would call them today), all other lyrics she wrote are about subjects which are personal to Sappho: the sorrow of parting, when the girls of her circle got married or left, her nostalgia, when she reminisced the lovely days they spent together. Sappho wrote in the vernacular language of Lesbos, the aeolic dialect.
Plato praised Sappho, naming her the tenth muse, while the Alexandrian scholars included her in the precept of the nine great lyric poets. During the Hellenistic Era a large number of poetesses who were considered the successors of Sappho. - Corinna of Tanagra, Praxilla of Sicyon, Anyte of Tegea, Erinna. However, from the end of the first and beginning of the second millennium our knowledge of Sappho is based on indirect tradition and mainly odes one and two.
Most fragments of Sappho’s poems were found as late as 1898 by the discovery of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri in Egypt.
Theophrastus (372 - 987 b.C.). Theophrastus, born in Eresus, is one of the most eminent personalities that rose to prominence on Lesbos during the antiquity. He was the par excellence disciple, collaborator and successor of Aristotle, whom he succeeded as scholarch of the Peripatos School which he worthily directed for 34 years, lecturing to over 2.000 pupils from all over Greece.
Theophrastus shone in all fields of wisdom, Metaphysics, Logic, Ethics, Rhetoric but above all the natural sciences.
His writings were a colossal work. Of the 240 books which are attributed to him, with the exception of the ‘botanist’ and the ‘Characters’, only fragments of his work were saved. Nonetheless, these fragments are sufficient enough to give us a clear picture of his personality.
In his two essays on botanological issues “Plant - Researches” and “Plant-Aetiology” Theophrastus attempts a systematic and detailed classification of plant-life. These works are of exceptional significance since they contributed to the establishment of the respective scientific fields and to the systemization for the first time of empirical research in its totality. They also provide evidence of the wisdom of the researcher and intellectual that Theoprastus of the valleys and mountains of Eresus was.
Another side of Theophrastus’ personality is presented in “Characters”. It is a collection of thirty descriptive sketches, a superb display of norms of behaviour. Theophrastus had the unique ability to distinguish the details of mental cases. Thus “Characters” is a masterpiece, unrivalled in its type.
This type of writing was brought to the theatre. Theophrastus inaugurated the great series of famous “Characters”, the greatest theatrical masterpiece created from antiquity until today.
Phanias was born in Eresos of Lesbos during the 4th century b.C. He was the disciple of Aristotle, whom he met while the latter was living in Mytilene between 345 - 344 b.C and was the collegue of Theophrastus.
Phanias wrote historal, philosophical and political works and an essay on plants. Furthermore he studied critique and music (¨Poets¨). Unfortunately, none of his works were saved, merely fragments.
Phania made a significant contribution to the science of Logic which was being founded at that time, with Plato and Aristotle as the first founders.
Titles of his works include: